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Finding or Creating Your Own Speaking Niche

You need to discover your speaking niche. What are you good at? What is your industry or field of interest? If you've been following along in this book, you've already figured this out. If you turned straight to this chapter, just be aware that this is something you need to do. We'll show you how.

First, this needs to be something you're not only good at, but have some expertise at. If you just started your very first job as a copywriter at a marketing agency two months ago, then chances are you don't have the expertise to speak to a room full of other copywriters about "The Top 10 Copywriting Secrets."

So if you want to become a speaker, you need to identify that area you're not only passionate about, but you have done for a few years. Once you figure that out, you need to find your niche.

Finding your speaking niche is critical in establishing your speaking career. You can't just select "everything" as your subject matter, any more than you can select "everyone" as your potential audience.

Even business motivational speakers know that they only want to reach a certain group or type of people—businesspeople, salespeople, people who want to make more money, and so on. Their audience is not the general population, or non-salespeople. They only want people who work in sales and marketing.

Start with the general picture, and then drill down further. Even a specialized field may have areas of specialty.

Let's say you're a cost reduction consultant. You help companies improve their bottom line by reducing their costs.

In fact, that's even your elevator speech when you explain what it is you do: "I help companies improve their bottom line by reducing their costs." (We'll ignore the fact that this is a boring introduction to what you do.) Believe it or not, that's not your potential audience when you're trying to find speaking gigs. Dig deeper.

"I help small businesses—businesses with fewer than 100 employees—reduce their costs."

Better, but that's still a lot of businesses. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004, there were 5.7 million businesses in the United States with fewer than 20 employees. Get more specific.

"I help small manufacturing companies reduce their costs."

That's pretty good. We can live with that. We can actually go deeper into our specialty (small tool-and-die manufacturers, small tool-and-die manufacturers who work in the automotive industry), but that might be a niche to pursue for a business route, not your speaking field.

Keep in mind that you don't have to live exclusively in your niche. You just have to focus on that one particular field, finding different conferences, trade shows, and expos to speak at. Then, once you're comfortable there, you can branch out to a second niche. In fact, by focusing on one niche, like reducing costs for small manufacturing companies, you can choose a second one—one- and two-partner law firms—without ever causing any problems for yourself, since those two areas will rarely overlap.

You can also have a small niche that fits within a large field. For example, we're both social media consultants with deeper specialties. Kyle focuses on corporate training and education, and Erik focuses on online marketing. These can cross into other industries with ease. Whether its social media training or online marketing, companies from every industry can use these services.

You can create your own specific niche that crosses borders, too. Whether it's transportation safety, identity theft protection insurance, Generation Y image consulting, or executive travel coordination, you can choose such a narrow niche that you can then focus on a wide market of ideal companies, like companies that are a specific size or are based in a certain region.

Again, it's important to drill down to that same focus as in the previous section. For example, don't just pick "small business consulting" as your niche. Even "marketing for small businesses" is too big. "International sales and marketing for small businesses" is a decent speaker's niche. A good number of businesses do business overseas, and you can tap into all kinds of government programs, sales organizations, and even specific industries to find speaking opportunities.

Once you identify your niche, you're ready to launch your speaking career.

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